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Trust charcoal

Charcoal kiln at Ardess Lodge.
Charcoal kiln at Ardess Lodge.
Sustainable. Additive free. High quality. Made in Scotland.

Why is National Trust for Scotland charcoal special?

It's simple: every bag of this high-quality charcoal helps to protect woodland in the care of the National Trust for Scotland.

As part of our role in managing woodland we clear non-native invasive species, such as Rhododendron ponticum. This creates a more diverse ecosystem for wildlife, allowing bees, butterflies and wildflowers to thrive. The cleared wood, as well as off-cuts from pruning, are recycled into this sustainable, additive-free, high-quality charcoal.

The majority of charcoal in the UK has been imported from hundreds of miles away, often from unsustainable sources, and it often contains additives that can alter the taste of food. Our trained rangers, garden staff and volunteers make this charcoal locally using traditional kilns – it’s much kinder to the environment.

The story so far

Our charcoal making arose from the problem of what to do with the vast quantities of Rhododendron ponticum we were clearing from woodlands at Brodick, on the Isle of Arran, and at Ben Lomond.

Rhododendron ponticum is a very invasive plant and spreads rapidly into adjacent unmanaged woodland and open ground, to eventually cover large areas.

When this rhododendron spreads into an area, it grows so densely that it shades out other plantlife, and prevents the seedlings of native plants from germinating. Its leaves and buds contain high levels of toxins, which make the plant unpalatable to grazing animals and most insects. An area dominated by Rhododendron ponticum can become an uninhabitable desert for our native flora and fauna.

Another, more recent, danger posed by this rhododendron is that it has been found to be readily infected with a destructive plant pathogen called Phytopthera ramorum, which can kill trees. This pathogen is more commonly known as ‘Sudden Oak Death’.

To ensure natural woodland habitats are protected for wildlife to live in, and for future generations to enjoy, we are working to remove Rhododendron ponticum from all our woodland.

Follow the Ben Lomond Ranger Service on Facebook to keep up to date with our work.

A solution in charcoal making

At Brodick, much of the rhododendron timber generated by clearing was being sold as firewood, but staff decided to try making barbecue charcoal as an alternative.

This was very successful and was quickly taken up at Ben Lomond too, where it has become the main method of making use of the larger diameter rhododendron pieces since 2006.

We also make charcoal from beech wood at Killiecrankie; in this case it is the smaller wood we use for charcoal making, because it is too small to be sold as logs.

Why is our charcoal better than other BBQ fuels?

Not only is it great for cooking your food due to its lack of additives, but our charcoal is also better for the environment than many other fuels.

All charcoal production creates pollution in the form of smoke and gases from the wood, so growing trees just to make charcoal is not the best use of that resource.

Trust charcoal is made from wood that has been felled for habitat protection reasons, and which doesn’t have many other uses. By using this wood to make charcoal, rather than just burning it to get rid of it, we reduce pressure on other forest resources used for charcoal production.

And, of course, every purchase you make helps to fund our vital conservation work.

Where can you buy our charcoal?

Ben Lomond

Available from the ranger’s office at Ardess Lodge, Rowardennan, by Drymen G63 0AR. We can also deliver locally.

Telephone: 01360 870224


Available from Inverewe Visitor Centre, Poolewe, Ross-shire IV22 2LG
Telephone: 01445 781229


Available from the Brodick Country Park Ranger Centre and Brodick Castle Reception Centre, Brodick Country Park, Isle of Arran KA27 8HY
Telephone: 01770 302462


Available from the Killiecrankie Visitor Centre, Pitlochry, Perthshire PH16 5LG
Telephone: 01796 473233